During Singapore’s post-war years, this school compound once housed the Bourne School (Alexandra Section) – attended by the children of the British forces.
Accessed via a winding uphill drive, a school compound is concealed in the green shrubbery of Telok Blangah Hill. Set up shortly after the Japanese surrender, the school catered exclusively to children of the British forces in Singapore.
Situated a stone’s throw away from Gillman Barracks, the campus – first known as Alexandra Grammar School – was where children of the British forces were educated. In addition to the British majority, the student body included Malay, Chinese, and Gurkha children – aged between 11 and 18. To meet the huge influx of students, teachers were recruited from the United Kingdom to supplement local educators.
Faced with uncertain times in a post-war political environment, the British military presence continued to grow at an unprecedented rate, along with the number of service families in Singapore. As a result, service secondary schools were reorganised into two separate age groups in September 1964: older pupils attended the then-newly completed St. John’s, while those aged 11 to 14 continued at Alexandra Grammar School, which was merged with another secondary school and renamed Bourne School.
Termed as the Alexandra Section of the Bourne School, the compound boasted 27 spacious classrooms, seven laboratories, a well-stocked library, as well as specialised rooms – dedicated to music, languages, and sciences. Following the withdrawal of British forces from Singapore, the school was eventually closed in July 1971. Subsequently, the compound changed hands several times.
From 1974, Henderson Secondary School occupied the school premises temporarily, before shifting in 1976. A new primary school, purported to be Friendly Hill Primary School (which would eventually be merged into today’s Gan Eng Seng Primary), was then installed here briefly. Since then, the campus has housed the ISS International School (1985–present).
Buildings and sites featured on Roots.SG are part of our efforts to raise awareness of our heritage; a listing on Roots.SG does not imply any form of preservation or conservation status, unless it is mentioned in the article. The information in this article is valid as of December 2019 and is not intended to be an exhaustive history of the site/building.